Last weekend, Cody Garbrandt cemented one of the best years in the sport by dominating Dominick Cruz over five rounds to become the UFC bantamweight champion at UFC 207. Though the fight was only the co-main event, it had arguably a more dramatic build up with Cruz and Garbrandt jawing at each other the summer. And though Garbrandt was in control for most of their fight, the pre-fight trash talk was much the opposite with Cruz gaining the upper hand on several occasions. Cruz’s verbal undressings of Garbrandt were so bad that at one point during fight week the challenger left an interview to try and confront Cruz in person, and on other occasion, a minor physical altercation occurred between their two teams on the morning of the official weigh-in. These outbursts from Garbrandt left many wondering if Cruz had already mentally broken him before their fight even started.
But one man who was never worried about Garbrandt’s mindset was his head coach, Justin Buchholz. Speaking recently with Brian Stann on his radio show Toe-2-Toe, Buchholz explained that their team had no concerns with Garbrandt heading into the title fight because he has a “Mike Tyson mentality” which Cruz couldn’t break down.
“Going into that fight we had all kinds of altercations in camp between some of Dominick’s team and our team and there were little street fighting situations between us and when I saw the big shift, where I really was confident in Cody’s mentality, that Cody was in his head was when Dominick said ‘that’s the kind of energy Cody’s putting off, I need to match that energy.’ I was like, hey home boy you’re not gonna match that energy.
“This guy’s from the streets of Uhrichsville, Ohio. This guy has been stabbed, he’s had teeth in his knuckles, as a teenager he’s had to fight grown ass men. That’s a Mike Tyson mentality that Cody has. Mentally, he lives off that stuff. He gets hyped up. He’s like, ‘Oh you’re talking s**t? You talking crap about my friends? Let’s meet behind the school at the flagpole. You bring your friends, I’ll bring mine. It’s a fight.’ He loves that kind of stuff. It’s gonna be tough for somebody to get in Cody’s head. His mentality couldn’t have been better.”
And that mentality was on full display in their fight. Early on, Garbrandt started mocking the champion and talking to him during their fight and as the rounds progressed and Garbrandt started pulling ahead he became even more emboldened. In the latter half of the fight, Garbrandt even began break dancing and doing push-ups during rounds just to embarrass Cruz. One sequence was especially noticeable when Garbrandt slipped a series of punches and then pop-and-locked in the face of an exasperated Cruz. Buchholz said those dance moves weren’t part of the plan but were something he thoroughly enjoyed watching.
“I knew he had some club moves, but I’ve never seen him like that. That was amazing. I was saying this before, this is the only fight where I ever sat back and enjoyed one of my fighter’s works. I just sat back in the fourth round after he dropped him for the third time and just - he’s comfortable in there, he’s putting on a performance and I was just cheering for him. At one point, me and Danny Castillo started yelling at Cruz. I’ve never done that in a fight. It was just amazing to watch.”
But now the task turns from winning the belt to defending it and Buchholz and Garbrandt, in all likelihood, have a a stiff challenge ahead of them in the form of an old friend turned bitter foe, T.J. Dillashaw. The former bantamweight champion was originally a member of Team Alpha Male and brought the gym its first UFC belt before having a falling out and leaving the team. Garbrandt in particular had an issue with the way in which Dillashaw left the team and the build up to their fight might well end up being extremely heated. Not for Buchholz though who says he bears no ill will towards Dillashaw and welcomes a fight with his former training partner.
“Absolutely not. I can separate business and war between friendship or whatever. The bottom line is, I’m the head coach of Team Alpha Male. Cody’s my guy. T.J.’s no longer on the team so it’s not an issue with me at all. You’ve got to look at that fight and all the advantages are with us, obviously. I’ve cornered T.J. more than Duane has. I lived with T.J. I showed T.J. how to sit in his stance when he first came to the gym and had zero MMA fights. I was there through his amateur career to when he won the belt to when he lost the belt. I even cornered him when he fought Cruz, when he had left the gym since we had a close relationship... That’s Cody’s first sparring partner. So the advantages are all in our court on that one.”
But Buchholz also says that fight may not be next for the new champion. In what has become a recurring theme with new UFC champions, Buchholz says Garbrandt now has leverage and he will want to take the biggest money fight possible and has been setting his sights on bigger game than Dillashaw.
“I don’t know if that’s next because Cody has called out Aldo and McGregor and he’s in that area. He has the spotlight on him right now and he decides who he fights. He’s the champion of the world. He beat the linear champion Dominick Cruz definitively, took the belt, and he’s gonna make the rules and fight who he wants to fight which is the biggest money fight.”
WWE vet. The UFC added Todd Grisham to its broadcast team.
Stardom. UFC 207 is trending towards tremendously successful pay-per-view numbers.
Rugged. John Lineker suffered a broken jaw in the first round at UFC 207.
DV. Ex-UFC fighter Cody East accused of viciously assaulting his girlfriend.
Upset of the Year. Michael Bisping wins MMAFighting‘s Upset of the Year.
This is why Forrest didn’t get fired alongside Chuck and Matt Hughes.
Cody Garbrandt saying he could’ve stopped Cruz.
Discussion on Edmund’s corner work.
Chael saying he came to replace Tito.
A good look into the history of one of MMA best gyms.
Anybody but Maia/Wonderboy it seems for TWood.
You know who else debuted against Marcus Brimage and 2 years later was a UFC champion? Conor McGregor. Cody could be a star but it’s impressive to see how well Conor promoted himself.
Happens to the best of us.
I fucked up already ♂️. 2018 my year— Derrick Lewis (@Thebeast_ufc) January 3, 2017
This is a killer photo.
Trying to pick a fight.
Hey @ATumenov how many times you been finished ? Sub or TKO ? Add a tko to that you fight me— Platinum Mike Perry (@PlatinumPerry) January 3, 2017
This is how you take a loss.
Happy New Year everyone! I said everything I needed to in my post fight interviews except for one important thing - Thank you to all my fans, family, friends and the media for all the love and support. As I stated on Friday night, I’m not out of this. It’s just another life lesson that will help me learn, grow and evolve as a human and a man. I’m still standing. I’m not going ANYWHERE! ... Congrats to @cody_nolove on a good scrap! ⚡️ #ToBeContinued . @monsterenergy #monsterenergy @toyotaescondido #toyotaescondido @toyotires #toyotires @metropcs #metropcs @hayabusafight #hayabusafight . : @allelbows .
Going to heavyweight?
Todd Duffee (9-3) vs. Mark Godbeer (11-3); UFC 209, March 4.
Mirsad Bektic (11-0) vs. Darren Elkins (21-5); UFC 209, March 4.
TODAY IN MMA HISTORY
2014: Tarec Saffiedine defeated Hyun Gyu Lim in the main event of UFC Fight Night Singapore. Yep, that fight main evented a UFC card.
Upset of the Year was a pretty obvious one yesterday. Might be more controversy with the Submission of the Year Award today, but I think we got it right.
Have a good one and see y’all tomorrow.
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